Without a doubt, it was the most incredible hunt I’ve ever been on in my life. With so few hotspots offering trees big enough for stands, I’d been using ground blinds almost exclusively, along with my trusty Robo-Coy buck decoy. Because of regulations governing the area I was hunting, I was forced to remove the robotics that enable the head to turn and the tail to twitch. It didn’t matter. The ultra-realistic decoy and 130-inch rack was good enough to draw over three-fourths of the bucks seeing it into shooting range.
And talk about bucks! Never in my hunting life have I seen so many bucks or averaged passing up even close to the numbers of P&Y bucks each day that I did then. I’m not exaggerating when I say that seeing close to 10 bucks in a two-hour sit, with three or four grossing P&Y, was an average sit. To make it even more thrilling, the vast majority of the big boys put on up-close-and-personal shows, while inspecting, attempting to intimidate, and ultimately trying to trash my decoy. As I said, it truly was the most incredible hunt I’ve been on in my life, and the decoy and ground blind combination made it possible.
I’ve played around with ground blinds for years. I was skeptical at first, initially only using blinds when I simply couldn’t find the right tree. With each passing year and with each new trick discovered, though, that skepticism has disappeared.
Truth be told, the first time I paired a blind setup with a Robo-Coy, I knew something was up. Having set a blind next to a round bail, I was flat-out busted cold by a 160-plus-inch 10-pointer catching me watching a younger buck. One startled stare at my movement and several bounds later, he was gone. That portion of the experience surely doesn’t sell anything. However, that same buck coming back four more times after that made a believer out of me. Unfortunately, I was still learning the tricks of ground blinds then and managed to mess things up every time, but I left the blind that evening knowing I’d stumbled across something huge. Using ground blinds with decoys are simply a marriage made in heaven.
THE DECOY FACTOR
No matter whether you hunt out of a tree stand or a ground blind, a decoy isn’t going to work in every setting. Personally, I’ve never had good luck with a buck decoy placed in the woods. The same is true with blinds. Even in the case of a “brushed in” blind in the woods, the deer usually don’t see it until it’s well inside of their comfort level, and at that close distance the blind often spooks them. The only exception might be if you leave the blind in place for a long time and the deer get used to walking past it.
Of course, if a buck is itching for a fight, that most likely won’t be the case with the decoy in the woods. However, the effectiveness of decoys drawing in bucks from a distance is still greatly diminished in the woods because of the cover and lack of visibility.
The visual aspect also holds true for doe decoys, though I strongly suspect that the “surprise” factor could be either greatly diminished or completely removed under certain circumstances. For instance, it stands to reason that a doe decoy placed on the edge of a likely doe bedding area in the woods could be a strong draw to bucks right before, during and after the rut. Unfortunately, though, the odds of having one or more real does blowing and stomping at the decoy are also extremely high. Therefore, I like to use decoys almost exclusively in fields, young clearcuts, meadows and other open areas.